Culture

Challenge of a Leader: Ensuring Just and Fair Culture within Organization

Generally speaking, the first and foremost duty of a leader is to inculcate and promote just and fair business culture in the organization. Commitment shown in this regards not only builds trust of employees on the leadership but also paves way to a systemic improvement in co-ordination and collaboration within organization. Enhanced co-ordination and collaboration can be nurtured to improve value creation within the organization, which gradually improves quality of products and services (offered to customers). Eventually all of these add up towards consolidation of brand perception for the products and services offered by the organization.

In this regards, it may be noted that justice culture is a shared set of symbols and meanings attached to objects related to experience of fairness in an organization. These meanings and symbols are used by employees to navigate the justice landscape across time and situations. The justice culture remains as employees apply information from past events in the understanding of new experiences with unfair or fair treatment. Organizational storytelling and reputation act as medium of passage of information across individuals and over time. (Reference – The Oxford Handbook of Organizational Climate and Culture – By Karen M. Barbera)

Thus, we can say that establishing justice culture is evolutionary in nature, it deals with human experiences and with human interactions (passage of information across individuals). Together all of these attributes, make cultural change (for enhancing justice culture) a matter of consensus and a matter of establishing trust over a period of time. Therefore, every leader knows that it is not easy to change prevailing culture in any organization (more so, if term of the leader is short and pressure to perform is high). If circumstances permit, introduction of design thinking ways to generally tune the organizational culture to the strategic requirements of the organization could offer controlled, calculated and conscious cultural transformation. Professional implementation of design thinking to organizational change would enable a leader get a feel of transformation all along the life-cycle of transformation. For example, it may be possible to understand the way interactions are shifting human behavior or to minutely understand the way employees adapt with the newly introduced changes or (say) the way the cognitive bias of employee’s impact on gong change management.

Resistance to cultural change is an inherent feature of an organization. It is usually observed, within most organizations, there exists an ecosystem functioning in equilibrium serving to the (vested) interests of key stakeholders of the organization, which is usually very well synchronized with prevailing culture of the organization. Many times the vested interests of key stakeholders are aligned to the long term strategic interest of the organization but on certain occasions this alignment had withered away due to gradual changes in the environment. The withering away of alignment is often associated with increasing personal interest of dominant players, which creates hidden power centers influencing the organizational decision making and organizational governance. In such circumstances, realignment of with new culture is coupled with enhanced resistance to change.

A sensible leader quickly identifies different actors in the work environment, develops understanding on different aspects like the organizational design, the mechanism of operations, the characteristics of organizational dynamics and most importantly her own role in the entire gamut of things (along with her privileges and her limitations). Once a leader has got into grooves and positioned herself into the leadership position, she should give deep thought about how to streamline the organization towards achieving its objectives following the practice of a just and fair culture. Usually, it is left to leader to deal with the circumstances (both internal to the organization and external to it) and to execute cultural changes required for achieving business objectives of the organization.

In present landscape of business world, the design of organizational administration still appear to be influenced with classical organizations confirming with Fordism and Taylorism. So, it is expected from the leaders to control the organization by adhering to administrative framework laid out in organizational rules and by practicing administrative privileges. However, sensible leaders know very well that forceful measures to make the things fall in place through administrative privileges (enjoyed by the leader) do not result in institutional change and do not work towards consolidation of the organization as a cohesive force adhering to the organizational strategy for value creation. Mostly, in this regards, experts suggest that exploring possibilities for ways to increase pay-offs from just and fair practices within the organization works in the larger interest organization.

Perhaps, organizational change could be considered for promoting characteristic changes to the organization. In response to dynamically changing external and internal factors, organizations are consistently challenged to keep on changing (mostly for excellence or at times for existence). Usually, organizational transitions in response to such changes are planned, controlled and incremental in nature but on certain occasions, organizations have to respond with major transformations, which could be characterized as rapid, random and voluminous. These transitions and transformations bring opportunity to re-orient existing shared values of organization and to establish new normal with redefined benchmarks and realigned processes (in line with core organizational values). While managing such transitions and transformations to the organization, sensible leaders make conscious efforts to bring intended cultural change and to re-enforce key cultural values.

In my opinion, one key differentiating factor amongst those leaders who get success in ensuring just and fair business culture in organization and those who do not, is the passion to build an ethical organization, which can bring change to the business landscape through excellence.

But, what could possibly be a few most dominant characteristics of an organization broadly having achieved just and fair work culture? There could be many peculiar characteristics people suggest, however the ones I found most appealing, are as under:
A. Fair Processes with functioning Organizational Checks and Balances
B. Transparency within the Organization
C. Policy Driven Distribution of Organizational Resources
D. Mutual Trust and Fair Competition amongst the Employees
E. Sense of Ownership and Responsibility within Organization

References and Other Related Materials:-

1. How to use design thinking to change cultures
https://medium.com/thingsflux/how-to-use-design-thinking-to-change-cultures-9383e6c1c222
2. Getting beyond the BS of leadership literature
https://www.mckinsey.com/global-themes/leadership/getting-beyond-the-bs-of-leadership-literature
3. EU Charter for Fundamental Rights – Article 31
http://fra.europa.eu/en/charterpedia/article/31-fair-and-just-working-conditions
4. Why It’s So Hard to Be Fair
https://hbr.org/2006/03/why-its-so-hard-to-be-fair
5. Proof That Positive Work Cultures Are More Productive
https://hbr.org/2015/12/proof-that-positive-work-cultures-are-more-productive

(Also Published on the personal website of the author at – https://santoshbehar.blogspot.com/2018/03/challenges-of-ensuring-just-and-fair-organizational-culture.html)


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